Authenticity in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath - Sample Essay
The Grapes of Wrath is a novel written by John Steinbeck. In the bulk of modern literature, it is consider a masterful epic unmatched in the realm of the written word. The novel centers around a family of workers who are immigrants — The Joads. When the novel takes place they are in California attempting to survive the scarce conditions of the depression. Steinbeck monitors and recounts the ups and downs of the family and their experiences in United States.
Much of the plot is Steinbeck’s commentary on the rampant capitalism which literary sucked the land and the people dry during the 1930s. The story is based on real life excerpts of John Steinbeck’s field research. The real life conflict was created by greedy business men, and lending institutions which bought up land and employed workers to farm. The majority of these workers were lower class immigrant families that were paid so little that their struggles have often been paralleled to that of slavery which plagued the United States in the 16th and 17th centuries.
The old adage was particularly relevant when examining this novel, as the rich get richer, the poor end up dead — worked to death. Steinbeck is not casual in his assault of capitalism and it not fearful to express his disgust for the supposed American dream. He has a clear political viewpoint and asserts:”… the great fact: when property accumulates in too few hands it is taken away. And that companion fact: when a majority of the people are hungry and cold they will take by force what they need.
And the little screaming fact that sounds throughout all history: repression works only to strengthen and knit the repressed. ” (333). A major theme developed by Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath is his believe that the survive of the lower class is based on their dedication to family. His approach is a delicate mixture of Marxism and Socialism, both of which promote cooperative living. In the context of the time, Steinbeck’s beliefs were not just controversial but also dangerous.
The United States went through a two periods in which the government hunted after individuals they considered unamerican, the 1920s and the 1950s. This novel was written in the the 1930s. However, Steinbeck intricately weaves a tale of family strife, struggle, and survival, in The Grapes of Wrath, which has become a beloved and honored classic since its publication. Steinbeck’s depiction of the devastating conditions during the 1930s is historically accurate.
In particular, Steinbeck articulately describes what a Dust Bowl actually is and how it was created. He explains that the great plains experienced the greatest droughts ever during the great depression. The Dust Bowl was created due to lack of rain and also the over use of the land. Once pieces of land are over farmed they lose their nutrients and crops will not grow. These areas, once plush with grass and trees became “virtual deserts. ” It was this drought which forced families, hungry and tired, to see out new hope in the west.
The west promised folks clean and cheap living, and with access to regular work. Steinbeck describes the Dust Bowl in the following way, “The wind increased, steady, unbroken gusts. The dusts from the roads fluffed up and spread out and fell on the weeds besides the fields . . . the sky was darkened by the mixing dust, and the wind felt over the earth, loosened the dust, and carried it away. ” For the people living in these devastated lands, this was a very accurate account as to what the “weather” was like for weeks and months.